The fourth in the blog series GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? by Oh Baby Foods Mother & Founder, Fran B. Free
In continuing with our blog series on GMOs, I aim to gather insight into the little acronym and why it evokes strong feelings (of something) for just about everyone. Again, some believe GMOs are harmless and necessary, others believe they are unsafe, unproven, and find the act of messing with DNA terrifying.
In last week’s post, I discussed environmental and health concerns. I’m here again this week, and this time to give a factual overview of the political landscape of biotech (GMO).
I’m sticking with the facts on this one, because it can get really heated. And because the status is constantly changing with each new ballot measure in the US, it can get really complicated. To keep this simple, and fun, let’s approach this as a Q&A session.
Q. How many states require labeling of GMOs?
A. 64 countries
Q. Is the US one of these countries?
A. No. The US does not require labeling of GMOs.
A. Yes, seriously. There are a number of developed nations that do require labeling, such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China…but not the US.
Q. But didn’t I just hear something on the news recently, something about a celebration Vermont because of GMO labeling?
A. Yes, Vermont was the third US state to vote and send the message of “Yes! Label my food!” States are allowed to take the measure to ballot, to let their citizens decide.
Q. So, which states require GMO labeling?
A. Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont
Q. How many states have voted, but the ballot failed?
A. 3 states
Q. How many states have introduced legislation, without making it the ballot?
A. 26 states
Q. Which states have introduced the measure and will soon see it on their ballot?
A. Oregon residents will see it on their ballot in November 2014; that’s just a little over a week away!
Q. I don’t see my state listed. What can I do to change my state’s status? How can I support GMO labeling in my state?
A. Visit your state legislators. Who are they? Find them here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Q. So, sounds like it is up to the state right now to take action. Is there a federal bill that’s currently being considered to blanket the US in a single label law?
A. Yes; there is one bill that was introduced in both the Senate and the House in April 2013:
S. 809, The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced by Senator Boxer (D-CA) in April 2013. It was read twice, then assigned to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to consider before it may have the chance to go to the full floor for discussion.
H.R. 1699, The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced by Representative DeFazio (D-OR). It was assigned to the Committee on Health to consider before it may have the chance to go to the full floor for discussion.
Q. Is there a federal bill that’s currently being considered to toss out state-mandatory label laws?
A. Yes: H.R. 4432, The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 was introduced in April 2014 by Representative Pompeo (R-KS). It was then referred to the House subcommittee on Health. There has been no movement on this since it was introduced, which means that as of today, any state-mandatory label law stands.
Q. Tell me exactly how that bill would prevent GMO labeling laws, on a state and federal basis.
A. You may have heard it dubbed The D.A.R.K (Deny Americans Right to Know) Act, H.R. 4432 aims to keep US consumers from seeing mandatory GMO labeling by doing three things:
– Prevent states from adopting their own GMO labeling laws.
– Block states from making it illegal for food companies to put a “natural” label on products that contain GMO ingredients.
– Prevent the FDA from requiring companies to label GMO ingredients and instead continue a “voluntary” labeling policy, which has so far not proven successful.
Q. Why can’t the FDA do something now? Don’t they have the power to mandate a label on food that is “unsafe” without…literally…an act of Congress?
A. Short answer: yes. The FDA has the power to remove food from the grocery shelf that is “unsafe.” Long answer: GMOs have not yet been proven “unsafe” for Americans to consume.
Q. What can I personally do to support The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act?
A. I recommend working through the Center for Food Safety. Visit http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10418 and take it from there! Doesn’t it feel good to take a little action?
Okay, so you’ve just read through this post. It is already outdated? Please share the latest data here in the comments. And come back next week when we pack up and go on a field trip to follow the life of a GMO.
Topics for GMOs: What’s the Big Deal? Blog series, every Friday this October:
Friday, 10/3/2014 GMOs: It’s Personal
Friday, 10/10/2014 GMOs: The What, the How, the Why
Friday, 10/17/2014 GMOs: Environmental & Health Concerns
Friday, 10/24/2014 GMOs: Political Landscape
Friday, 10/31/2014 GMO Field Trip: Let’s follow the life of a GMO
Until next Friday,
Fran B. Free
Labeling Around the World. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from http://justlabelit.org/right-to-know/labeling-around-the-world/
H.R.4432 – Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014113th Congress (2013-2014). (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4432
Congress MUST Reject the ‘Deny Americans Right-to-Know Act’ (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2014, from http://livingmaxwell.com/dark-act
S.809 – Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act113th Congress (2013-2014). (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2014, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/809
H.R.1699 – Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act113th Congress (2013-2014). (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2014, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1699
Center for Food Safety | Fact Sheets | GE Food Labeling: States Take Action. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2014, from http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/fact-sheets/3067/ge-food-labeling-states-take-action#